Graphics Card Not Detected? Here’s The Fix

Graphics card not detected? Nobody likes to get an error like this, especially those not well-versed in the specifics of hardware/software interaction, but don’t worry, we’re here to help.

There are different reasons why your GPU isn’t being detected and you can encounter this error in various places, which only further adds to the confusion.

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GPU Not Detected In Windows

A PC Build With RGB
It would be a shame if your PC build looked like this but wasn’t able to detect your GPU

This problem can occur for a selection of reasons, but it’s exceptionally annoying to have Windows automatically switch to the integrated GPU without you noticing it until you want to play your favorite video game. Admittedly, this is an extreme case, but it illustrates the point.

It can also happen for seemingly random reasons, but the truth is that there’s an explanation for everything that happens in your PC and this is no exception. If you’re playing a particularly graphically intensive game, your GPU may overheat and temporarily shut down. Sometimes, it doesn’t even come back online and simply returns a black screen.

Related:Best GPU Temperature For Gaming

Luckily, most modern CPUs (excluding Ryzen) come with an integrated graphics card. You can simply switch your monitor to that output (which you can find on your motherboard’s backplate, right next to every other device input, like USB or PS/2). That way you can troubleshoot the issue “from the inside”.

Enabling The Graphics Cards

At that point, your first step should be getting to Device Manager, finding your GPU and checking if it’s disabled. By clicking on your GPU, you can also choose ‘Enable device’ to fix the problem.

Enabing The GPU Inside Windows 10 Device Manager
The text will show “Enable device” if the GPU is disabled

Unfortunately, it’s also possible that the Device Manager won’t even recognize your discrete GPU and will instead just show properties of the integrated one. In that case, you’ll have to check the BIOS/UEFI, but we’ll get to that in a bit.

Reinstall The GPU Driver

Sometimes the ‘Graphics card not detected’ error will occur upon the installation of new drivers when something goes awry. Be it a faulty driver on its own or new drivers’ incompatibility with another component inside the PC, the options are too numerous to name.

It may be a little cheeky to claim that those are squarely the manufacturer’s fault. More often than not, the user makes a mistake in downloading the wrong driver. In that case, you want to carefully examine the GPU model you have and download the proper driver while removing the previous mistakenly installed one.

The driver installation process of AMD compared to NVIDIA GPUs is different. Make sure you are following the right guide for driver uninstallation/installation.

However, as GPU technology advances, manufacturers are beginning to prefer the method of having a GPU management software installed automatically when a new card is inserted. This software then takes responsibility for updating drivers.

Sometimes, this issue can happen after a Windows update. The only solution here is to roll back the update and not install it until you make sure this problem no longer persists, by checking related forums and communities, or by installing the update and either getting a positive result or being forced to roll back the update once again.

BIOS/UEFI Issue And Fix

Windows 10 UEFI
Accessing the BIOS/UEFI settings is easy in Windows 10

First and foremost, UEFI is a successor to BIOS. However, due to the way BIOS was ingrained into our collective minds, it’s still widely used, although it refers to UEFI instead of BIOS. We will refer to UEFI as BIOS to avoid any confusion.

BIOS is in charge of your hardware and that should be the first logical step in checking whether your GPU is disconnected. If your monitor doesn’t detect the GPU and only shows a black screen, you can use the integrated GPU to access BIOS.

If you’re lucky enough, BIOS will detect your discrete GPU and you can simply enable it by changing its status from disabled. If your GPU is not detected at all and BIOS is showing its PCIe slot as empty, you have a bigger issue on your hands. But don’t worry, for every PC problem, there’s a solution.

Keep in mind, different motherboard manufacturers have a different BIOS. So, the solution to this BIOS problem will differ from one motherboard to another.

If you can’t seem to find an option to enable the GPU, resort to the motherboard’s manual.

Before we get to the case opening part, it’s good to check if your BIOS is up to date. This is a finicky operation, so it’s best to carefully follow the instructions from your motherboard’s manufacturer. Even if it is up to date, getting your BIOS reflashed may fix the problem.

Opening Up The Case

Removing PC Case panel
Removing PC case panels is usually easy. Photo credit: Gamers Nexus

Now we’re getting down and dirty. Opening up the case can be a daunting task if you’ve never done it, but don’t fret, it’s not that intricate.

First, you need to check if the power cables are properly plugged in the GPU. Even if they are, due to poor cable management (no judgment here), it’s possible that they are bent at an awkward angle, making them lose contact.

Then, you should check if your graphics card is properly seated in the PCIe x16 lane. A good way to tell if it’s seated properly is if the back I/O panel is sitting snug on the back of the case. If it isn’t and there’s a gap between the GPU’s back panel and the case, try to slowly apply a bit of force on the GPU down towards the motherboard.

If the GPU really hasn’t been seated properly before, you should be able to hear a “click” sound. This means that the GPU is now properly seated.

There’s also the standard turning it off and on again approach which requires you to fully remove the GPU and then put it back, although this isn’t likely to solve the problem.

You should also check if your PSU has enough power to handle your GPU’s highest demands. It’s commonly assumed that the GPU’s base power use is at roughly 40% of your PSU’s power capability, which allows the option of it using 50% of the available power when running heavy-duty operations.

Related:Best PC Power Supply Calculators

From here on, things only get grimmer.

If you still haven’t been able to find the problem, then your only option is to remove the GPU and test it on a different PC that you know works for sure.

If the GPU works there, then it’s likely that there is a problem with other hardware in your system. It could be your motherboard, RAM, PSU, or even CPU.

The simplest solution here is to replace the broken hardware, and that’s a whole different headache.

If your GPU doesn’t work in that other PC either, then you can hope that warranty covers whatever damage has occurred or you’ll have to get it repaired at your own expense. Alternatively, it may be time to look for a new graphics card.

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Aleksandar Cosic
Aleksandar Cosic

Alex is a Computer Science student and a former game designer. That has enabled him to develop skills in critical thinking and fair analysis. As a CS student, Aleksandar has very in-depth technical knowledge about computers, and he also likes to stay current with new technologies.